A Guide to Natural Swimming Pools in the UK

Natural swimming pools sound exciting and deliciously cool to dip into during the hot summer months. 

But is it all sunshine and flip flops? 

We’ve created this guide to natural garden ponds, to clear up what a natural swimming pool is, how they’re built, what maintenance is involved and what you should expect!

Let's dive right in...

What’s so Great About a Natural Swimming Pool?

Natural pools are dug right into your garden and filled with natural, chemical-free water. They’re beautiful when sculpted into your garden design and are perfect for swimming.

So, why are they better than a standard pool?

  • They look so much better (ok, we may be a little bit biased).
  • They support wildlife – without getting caught between your toes!
  • Your garden will be full of lovely new fauna to clean and grow with your pond.
  • No chemicals needed!
Natural swimming pond by Gartenart

When building a natural swimming pool, you also build an extra pool area (sometimes a shelf that encompasses the entire pool) that will filter water using gravel and an ecosystem of plants to remove nutrients and microorganisms. This ensures your swimming area stays free of algae and traditional pond life – there’s no need to worry about slimy green stuff or bugs swimming with you.

As a result, natural swimming pools are cheaper and easier to maintain. All you need to do is remove any debris that fall into your pond.

Seriously, that’s ALL you need to do.

A well-built natural garden pond will take care of itself. Meanwhile, that chemical-ridden concrete pool next door could be costing £10 a day just to keep it running.

What’s Not So Good About Natural Swimming Pools UK?

First, they’re cold. No artificial heating means that during winter UK months, your swimming pool will be very chilly! On the upside, there’s nothing more festive than seeing your pond freeze at Christmas.

Second, they’re not cheap! Natural swimming pools cost for initial installation is an eye-watering £100,000+. But for that price, your swimming pool will be tailored to your garden, literally sculpted into the landscape.

Finally, you’re going to need a decent space for your new natural pools – remember to calculate in your regeneration pool!

Getting your own natural swimming pool

How to Make a Natural Pond for Swimming

If you’ve got the skills, time, money, and patience, you can learn how to build a natural swimming pool step by step.

We highly recommend checking out natural swimming pool UK contractors instead, as the professional touch will really make a huge difference (see our recommendations below).

But anyway, here are the main steps to build a natural pond, so that you can get an idea of the work involved.

Natural Swimming Pool Plans

Plan the size, shape, and depth of your new swimming pond. Consider the regeneration area to clean the water and the existing landscape. To keep your water as clear as possible, plan your pool so dirty water won’t run off your garden into the pool.

Dig Dig Dig

The regeneration area should be at least ⅓ of the total pool size and don’t forget to dig a space for your water pump too. This helps water flow from the regeneration area to the swimming area.

Line and Plant

An important step when it comes to DIY natural swimming pools. Black lining forms the base and sides of your pool. Make sure your water-filtering plants are firmly secured with gravel, so they won’t spread into the swimming area.

The Essential Natural Pond Tools

Besides the shovel and wheelbarrow, you’ll need:

Lining – usually made from synthetic rubber, it’s impossible to avoid lining your pond completely. While the material might not be eco, it’s completely essential and won’t leach chemicals or toxic substances.

Pump – for keeping the water clean and healthy. We recommend buying the best possible pump for longevity. It will save you the hassle of replacing it and is more eco-friendly!

Natural pond filter – go for native British pond plants! Irises and pond lilies add lovely colour, while oxygenators like arrowhead and eelgrass keep water fresh. Strike a balance between submerged, flowering, deep water, and shallow water plants.

How to Clean a Natural Pond

Once your pond is set up, the only maintenance you do is sweeping out fallen debris with a big ol’ net. A yearly check-up is advisable, to ensure your plants are still balanced and filtering the water.

Now all you need to do is pick sexy new ethical swimwear to show off by your new pool!

3 Epic Eco Natural Pond Ideas

Small yet chic. Katrin Lugerbauer’s swimming pond with decking in Austria would be perfect for most small gardens!

If you want natural garden ideas that don’t involve 101 different plants, check out DaNelle Wolford’s rocky swimming pond in Arizona, USA.

Sam Saines is the Dorset gardener behind beauties such as this natural swimming pool, with natural British pond vibes.

3 Companies Who Will Build Your Private Natural Swimming Pond!

Gartenart – they’ve designed and built nearly 200 natural pools across the UK and internationally.

Clear Water Revival – a great option if you like natural ponds with a contemporary feel for your modern garden.

The Swimming Pond Company – to support a wonderful British pool building company based in Norfolk.

Prepping Your Natural Garden for a British Summer

Once your DIY natural swimming pool is complete, it’s time to get your natural garden in shape for summer.

Step 1: Plant native British plants for bees and butterflies – if you’re feeling lazy, try buying a big pack of native British wildflower seeds and scattering them over flower beds for a mini meadow.

Step 2: Feed the birds – look for birdfeeders designed for small birds, like robins, starlings, and goldfinches, so big pigeons can’t steal all the food!

Step 3: Go eco for the summer – bamboo sunglasses and recycled flip flops are a must, but don’t forget to choose eco-friendly materials when picking lawn furniture as well.

Finding Public Natural Swimming Pools in the UK

It’s not easy, that’s for sure! The biggest and best natural swimming pool in the UK was the Kings Cross pond in London, which sadly closed. Nonetheless, there are still opportunities to explore natural swimming.

Goldiggins Quarry

Goldiggins Quarry, Cornwall – one of the best places in the UK for wild swimming, with flat rocky outcrops, perfect for practicing your cannonball.

Cleveland Pools, Bath – still under construction, these grade II listed Georgian open-air pools in Bath will soon be natural ponds for the public.

You can always check the Wild Swim Map for more places near you for a quick splash about.

Natural Pool FAQs

How much is a natural swimming pool?

Natural swimming ponds cost upwards of £100,000, depending on the size, design, and contractor.

Are natural swimming pools safe?

Yes, when built and maintained correctly. The same dangers apply to a standard swimming pool – keep animals away and never let young kids swim unattended.

How small can a natural swimming pool be?

In theory, as small as you like. 30% to 50% of the pond will be unswimmable, due to the regeneration plants, so if your garden is small, try building a natural pond as a plunge pool.

Do natural swimming pools attract mosquitoes?

Potentially. Pond plants create an ecosystem that attracts all kinds of life – including insects and animals that will eat mosquitos – so you don’t need to worry about being eaten alive!

Can you have fish in a natural swimming pool?

No, it’s not advisable. To keep the water clean, your plants are working hard to filter nutrients out of the water. This prevents wildlife from taking over. Fish will struggle to survive in a nutrient-lacking pond and could make the water dirtier.

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